Anthony Cacace has had so much bad luck over the last couple of years, but things might just be turning his way after he lifted the IBO super-featherweight title with a split decision over Michael Magnesi on the Joyce-Parker bill in Manchester.

It is nearly three years since Cacace won the British title but he had only boxed once since – injury, a tooth abscess and catching Covid were all reasons for having fights called off. Then he should have been on the Tyson Fury-Dillian Whyte bill at Wembley Stadium in April, but that was called off when his opponent failed to get a visa.

The 33-year-old from Belfast wouldn’t give up, though, and got his reward in Manchester. While the IBO title is not everyone’s favourite, beating the previously unbeaten Magnesi puts him in a promising position where Shakur Stevenson’s failure to make the weight on Thursday left two world titles vacant.

For six rounds it was a tough fight, with Magnesi the aggressor, but Cacace dominated the second half and looked a comfortable winner. That was how two judges saw it, with England’s Steve Gray going 116-112 and Canada’s Benoit Roussel scoring it 117-113. Somehow Poland’s Pawel Kardyni scored it 116-112 to Magnesi – a baffling scorecard.

Magnesi came after Cacace from the opening bell, but Cacace used the ring well and landed the best shot of the opening round, a cracking left uppercut, just before the bell.

The Italian kept the pressure on in the second round, but Cacace stood and tareded and had success to head and body.

The third was fought at a fierce pace, as Magnesi put Cacace under serious pressure early on, but Cacace fired back late in the round.

There was a slow up in Magnesi’s work in the fourth and fifth rounds, as Cacace was able to create a bit more space to land some hard shots, although Cacace finished the fifth with a cut over the left eye.

The sixth was a close round, as Magnesi put a big effort in, but the seventh was a bit messier as they became tied up while trying to land big punches, but Cacace found more room again in the eighth as he walked Magnesi into his best shots.

In the final moments of the round, Cacace caught Magnesi flat-footed as he landed a big right, wobbling him, although the Italian fired back and then shook his head to show he wasn’t hurt.

But Cacace was the one dominating now, as he stood at range and had time to pick his shots. The ninth and tenth rounds were tough for the Italian as he walked forward with little success. And Magnesi failed to turn the tide in the last two rounds, as Cacace kept his distance and eased his way to victory.

Massive ticket-seller Nathan Heaney held on to his IBO international middleweight belt via a technical decision over Jack Flatley after a clash of heads led to a huge cut over Heaney’s right eye in the fifth round.

The fight had been close, though the bigger man Heaney seemed to be edging it when the clash occurred, which not only dropped Heaney to his knees but left him with a three-inch gash over his right eye. Referee Steve Gray called for the ringside doctor but it was waved off at 2:05 of the fifth round.

Michael Alexander and Pawel Kardyni had it 49-46 and Benoit Roussel scored it 50-45. 

Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.